The late spring this year has worked in our favour for visiting some gardens where we wanted to see their magnolias, ericaceous displays, wild flower banks and woodlands, which we only got around to doing in this last couple of weeks. We are lucky enough to live close to Dartington Hall and Gardens near Totnes which has a brilliantly quirky formal garden and woods. It is a small but perfectly formed garden which feels a bit like Capability Brown meets Alice-in-Wonderland!
|A Henry Moore sculpture with the lawns and hall in the background. |
Darting Hall was an art school for many years and there are lots of
beautiful sculptures in the gardens.
|One of two thatched follies which seems to be used as a|
tea room by the gardeners.
Worth a visit at any time of year, it is particularly good in the spring time as they have extensive magnolia avenues, a great collection of camellias and interesting formal landscaping all interspersed with banks covered in primroses, dog tooth violets, cyclamens, wood avons and bluebells. It really is magical.
|The bizarrely terraced lawn and neat box hedges contrasted|
by the wild flower banks.
Another garden which most people have rightly heard of is the Lost Gardens of Heligan near St Austell in
|The Giant's Head and Mud Maid (below) by local sculptors |
Sue and Pete Hill.
Where to begin?? It has everything from woodland rides, to jungle boardwalks, walled vegetable and flower gardens and …..best of all: pineapple pits!
|These large adapted cold frames were made hot by filling special|
trenches running along each side with animal manure. The heat
generated as the manure rotted was allowed in to the glassed
growing area via the vents visible in the pictures,
These gardens, like many estate parks was lost to neglect after the first world war and was found in 1990 by Tim Smit- an ancestor of the Tremayne family who started the gardens in the mid 18th century- who began the enormous renovation project. It really is incredible to see what he has recreated with the help of armies of volunteers over the years.
|Was that a velociraptor emerging from beneath the|
gunnera? Oh, no. A blackbird.
|Ancient tree ferns grow very slowly, about 1m every |
200 years. It is believed that some of these specimens,
shipped in in Victorian times, are as much as 1000
Tim Smit has now passed away but the creativity continues, and these gardens are a must-see for anyone interested in plants, gardens or history. It is also somewhere you can feel safe to appreciate rhododendrons without fretting about their potential environmental impact!
|Espalier apple trees|
Of course, we were drawn to the walled vegetable garden where we admired the complete lack of weeds and the perfection of the espalier, fan and cordon fruit trees....these put the text books to shame!
|Fanned plum tree|
|I was tempted to guerilla plant a nice understorey of veg in here...|
alas I didn't have any to hand.
|Cordons of mixed apple and pear trees.|